The Woodward News

Local News

June 23, 2012

Businesses pass compliance checks

Woodward, Okla. — Recent "Reward/Reminder Visits" were conducted in Woodward and Beaver counties to ensure retailers who sell tobacco products weren't selling to minors.

Staff from the Northwest Center of Behavioral Health Regional Prevention Center and youth volunteers conducted the "Reward/Reminder Visits," which are also known as tobacco compliance checks, at stores in Woodward, Balko and Slapout.

"We want to reduce youth's access to tobacco and one of the evidence-based strategies to do that is by doing tobacco compliance checks because it increases the perception they would get caught for selling tobacco to a minor," said Ashley Ferguson, regional prevention coordinator.

Ferguson said all of the retailers approached in the June 14 checks refused to sell tobacco products to the underage volunteers. Those retailers included Southgate United Supermarket, Jiffy Trip No. 435 and Hutch's C-Store No. 108, all in Woodward, as well as Crossroads Express in Balko and Slapout Service in Slapout.

"We have done 32 compliance checks this fiscal year," Ferguson said. "We only had one sale in all of our region."

The region consists of 7 counties including Beaver, Cimmaron, Ellis, Harper, Texas, Woods and Woodward. Ferguson said only having one retailer fail the compliance test was very good and the number of failed compliance tests has reduced over the past year.

"I think it's because we consistently do them," she said. "People are aware if they're selling to minors they will get caught eventually."

If an employee is caught selling to a minor during the "Reward/Reminder Visits", he or she will immediately be notified and the store's manager will be notified in a letter.  If employees refuse the sale, they are praised on the spot and a letter will notify the manager of the compliance.

While the compliance checks from Northwest Center for Behavioral Health do not have serious legal repercussions, additional checks conducted by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission can lead to possible filing of criminal charges against anyone who sells tobacco to a minor.

Ferguson said the compliance checks are an important step in helping fight tobacco addiction.

"We don't want kids to start smoking," she said. "Every day the tobacco industry is recruiting what they call replacement smokers."

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